The Flower-Waterer Who Didn’t Believe His Flowers Were Beautiful

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The morning heat lay heavy on the flower-waterer’s shoulders.

Still, he gathered his forces, determined to complete his task at all costs, which consisted of watering the border with his sweat every day, even if the heat became so unbearable that he saw mirages.

Through the mirages came demons who constantly poked at the meaning of the flower-waterer’s life.

“Why do you water flowers, if they are doomed to wither?” the demons nagged, bringing a massive, ruinous storm to the border.

At such times the flower-waterer ran home to his love, to be safe in his little house, where the demons’ hands could not reach him, because to this day they cannot set foot in a place where two people love each other. Their dominion lies only in the fields, because there they can easily destroy whoever is still unused to mirages.

The flower-waterer poured himself a spritzer under the large walnut tree and waited. God had promised him that if he watered the border with his sweat for a long time, so many flowers would grow that they would find their way everywhere. The city, the houses would be adorned with them, they’d make their way to the cemeteries too, to assure people that even if all the flowers of the world fade away, somewhere there will always be one flower-waterer who makes it possible to buy flowers for graves, to remember those who are no longer here.

Because without flower-waterers, there would be no one to water the border; and without flowers, nothing would weigh the gravestones down, nothing would keep the souls of the dead in place so that they could emerge at the end of time, but instead they would emerge on their own, preventing the Last Judgement. People are terrified of this; that is why they hold flower-waterers in such high esteem, at least the few of them that remain.

The flower-waterers’ other task is to constantly look at the sun. That’s why you can tell, even in childhood, who will become a flower-waterer, because their eyes are like glass marbles, so hard you could even poke them, and that’s why flower-waterers can bear the sight of the sun better than others. Of course those glass eyes don’t protect from the strongest rays, that’s when they start to tear up, they actually cry; but this crystal-clear juice that flows from their eyes makes the flowers shoot into stem.

This is how the flower-waterers work; behind their footsteps daffodils, primroses, honeysuckle, dandelions and snowdrops, roses and meadow saffrons unfurl. The garden of flower-waterers resembles the Garden of Eden—of course, only if they do their job well, because the flower-waterer who cannot complete his task will spend his life in sorrow and will become like the demons who bring storms to the border to destroy the flowers grown strong in the morning. Many people say that these flower-waterers will become demons, and the demons’ primary goal is to cloak the whole world in darkness.

Flower-waterers are simple people by nature. They are not very clever, they do not brag, they do not speak the tongue of angels, they are not clanging brass, they do not have special talents, they do not know all the secrets and sciences, they do not have enough faith to move mountains, they only have love. They don’t bestow all their goods and give their bodies to be burned, they only have love. For not always are they patient or kind, but at times they wax jealous and boastful, haughty and rude; they seek their own gain, can become angry, and even fall into the evil of blaming others. In their wickedness, sometimes one or another of them goes mad, and they might even reject the truth. They don’t bear all things and don’t believe all things, they don’t hope and endure all things. But they have love. And love never ends. Prophecy fails, tongues fall silent, science fades away. While they are children, they talk like a child, think like a child, judge like a child. But when they grow into men, they put away childish things. Now they see only through a glass, darkly; one day they will see face to face. Now they know only in part, but then they will know even as they are known. Now faith, hope, and love remain—these are the three, but the greatest of these is love. 

Gleaning this, a boy got up and left the family home, tied shoes on his feet and took a stick in his hand, and set out, knowing that he must follow the one who told him that his only duty in life would be to water flowers with his tears. His father and mother did not understand what their son was doing, their son who was supposed to go to university and then carry on his father’s business. They asked how he was going to make a living. And then the boy said, look at the birds of the sky, they don’t sow, they don’t reap, and his parents didn’t grasp what was clear.

The boy’s only talent was that he understood what was clear, but he didn’t understand company management, bewildered as he was by logistical consulting and financial accounting; all he knew was that he had been told at a young age to watch the birds of the sky: they don’t sow, they don’t reap, and yet they are taken care of. So truly, would no one take care of him? And the boy who only understood flower-watering went forth and preached the kingdom of God.

For example, he told the story of the flower-waterer who couldn’t believe that his flowers were beautiful. In this flower-waterer’s garden stood a sky-high tree from whose trunk grew all the flowers in the world. Still, this garden was different from the others, so the flower-waterer thought his flowers weren’t lovely enough. So he went to the head gardener, who said that he had low self-esteem, and that’s why he didn’t believe that his flowers were beautiful. The others said that it was because he had been kicked out of the home as a child by his half-witted father, who insisted that a flower-waterer would never be a normal, respectable human being. And the priest told him that if he only had as much faith as a mustard seed, he would surely believe that those flowers were beautiful.

At first, the flower-waterer took it all in, but after a while these arguments no longer convinced him, so he began to ponder privately why he did not believe that his flowers were beautiful.

“Red rose, white rose, what could be wrong with my garden?” he chanted on his way to the border.

It was very quiet; neither the trees nor the border answered, only from within the forest something rustled now and then. The flower-waterer began to sob, he wept in the heat for those who had no way to cool off, for the elderly, for the animals who had no plants to eat due to the great drought, and for those who had just died in an accident in the village, and those who had been evicted from their homes by the bureau. He wept for the young and the old, the sad and the happy, the rich and the poor, kings and beggars, men and women, children and their parents, and even the dead tree on the border. And as he wept and shed tears, the flowers grew and grew, first at his feet, then all along the border, and finally the flower-waterer stood in the midst of infinite rose gardens.

Others marveled at the blossoming countryside; they saw the beauty of the flower-waterer’s work, invisible to him because of his tears, even as more and more people watched him grow beautiful gardens and rose-groves out of nothing, and shouted and whooped at him that when he finished, he should come down to the pub, or under the big walnut tree, and there they would drink a spritzer; and the flower-waterer finally heard this and smiled, thinking that fairy tales really do end with the main hero getting his deserved reward. This made him weep even more, and on the way home, so many flowers grew in his footsteps that ever since then, the village has been talking about how there once lived a flower-waterer who did not believe that his flowers were beautiful, even though the most beautiful ones on the border opened for him.